The Justice Department told former special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday that he should limit his Wednesday testimony before Congress to the four corners of his public report on Russian interference.
“Any testimony must remain within the boundaries of your public report because matters within the scope of your investigation were covered by executive privilege, including information protected by law enforcement, deliberative process, attorney work product, and presidential communications privileges,” Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer wrote in a letter to Mueller.
“These privileges would include discussion about investigative steps or decisions made during your investigation not otherwise described in the public version of your report,” Weinsheimer wrote.
“Consistent with standard practice, Department witnesses should decline to address potentially privileged matters, thus affording the Department the full opportunity at a later date to consider particular questions and possible accommodations that may fulfill the committees’ legitimate need for information while protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests,” he added.
It was already expected that Mueller would most likely only speak about what is spelled out in the redacted version of his 448-page report on Russian interference into the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. The new letter pretty much guarantees that.
Weinsheimer reiterated statements made by Attorney General William Barr that it is ultimately Mueller’s decision to testify. He emphasized that Mueller should not reveal anything related to the redacted portions of the report — which conceal grand jury material, details on ongoing investigations, classified material and information on third parties.
Mueller, who is now a private citizen after leaving his post as special counsel, is slated to testify in back-to-back hearings before the Judiciary and Intelligence panels on Wednesday, a combined appearance that is expected to last roughly five hours.
In a brief interview Monday evening, Mueller’s spokesman Jim Popkin said that the former special counsel would stick closely to the details of the report in his public appearance.
“As I think he made crystal clear then, you can expect him to stick as much as he can to the four walls of the Mueller report,” said Popkin, pointing to his May 29 statement.